Delirium assessment in intensive care units: practices and perceptions of Turkish nurses

Nurs Crit Care. 2016 Sep;21(5):271-8. doi: 10.1111/nicc.12127. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Background: As delirium in intensive care unit (ICU) patients is a serious problem that can result in increased mortality and morbidity, routine delirium assessment of all ICU patients is recommended. The severity, duration and outcome of the syndrome are directly related to nurses' continuous assessment of patients for signs and symptoms of delirium. However, studies indicate that very few nurses monitor for delirium as a part of their daily practices.

Aim: The aim of this study was to identify current practices and perceptions of intensive care nurses regarding delirium assessment and to examine the factors that affect these practices and perceptions.

Design: A descriptive, correlational study design was used.

Methods: Data were collected from five Turkish public hospitals using a structured survey questionnaire. The study sample comprised 301 nurses who agreed to participate. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.

Results: More than half of the nurses performed delirium assessments. However, the proportion of nurses who use delirium assessment tools was quite low. Almost all of the nurses perceived delirium as a problem and serious problem for ICU patients. The patient group least monitored for delirium was that of unconscious patients. Statistically significant differences were found in the proportion of nurses who assessed delirium symptoms and whose care delivery system was patient-centred and perceived delirium as a serious problem.

Conclusion: While a majority of ICU nurses perceived delirium as a problem and serious problem, the proportion of those who perform routine delirium assessments was less. It was found that delirium assessment practices of nurses were affected from their perceptions of delirium and the implementation of patient-centred care delivery.

Relevance to clinical practice: It is essential to develop strategies to encourage ICU nurses to perform delirium assessments through the use of delirium assessment tools.

Keywords: Delirium; Delirium assessment tools; Intensive care; Nursing assessments.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Critical Care
  • Delirium / diagnosis
  • Delirium / nursing*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Nursing Assessment / methods*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data*
  • Turkey